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Feather in the cap

REX HARLEY reviews a choral concert which took place
on Saturday 13 March 2004 in Bristol UK


St George's, Brandon Hill benefits from some of the most imaginative concert programming outside a capital city. It also has a superb acoustic and a spacious undercroft, occupied by a café/bar, along the lines of London's St John's, Smith Square. As a result, concerts attract large audiences, even when the performing forces are, in this case, an amateur choir supported by a scratch orchestra and four professional soloists. And, although the performances were by no means faultless, there was some exciting and committed music-making during the course of the evening.

The concert began with that trusty war-horse Zadok the Priest, sung from memory. One or two eager souls made impromptu entries a little earlier than ideal, but this was a fault more visible than audible: the choral sound was strong, well-balanced, and the absence of scores somehow gave the piece a new immediacy, drawing the audience into the process and enabling us to share the obvious enjoyment of the singers.

The main item in the first half was Mozart's Mass in C Minor, the choir continuing to demonstrate cohesion, and responsive to shifts of tempo and mood, under their director David Ogden. The orchestra too, played with verve and precision. It's testament to the quality of professional players in this country that you can throw them together ad hoc, and they sound as if they've played together for years! The weak point was, unfortunately, the uneven quality of the soloists, which compromised the total effect of the piece. Exempt from any criticism in this respect, however, was soprano Angela Kazimierczuk whose rendition of the expansive, and at moments achingly beautiful, Et Incarnatus Est, was the high point of the performance.

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Copyright © 27 March 2004 Rex Harley, Cardiff UK


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